Town flips the solar switch

Published in Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Town flips the solar switch

The solar array on Pheasant Road will be brought online Friday, culminating an endeavor to build the largest solar array in New Hampshire in a town with a population of less than 7,000.

To celebrate, the town will hold ribbon-cutting ceremony at the solar array field Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open to the public.

Town Administrator Rodney Bartlett said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will speak, and over 70 people have confirmed they will attend. The guest list includes politicians, state officials and leaders in the solar industry.

The solar array will be a 944-kilowatt installation. It is off Pheasant Road, next to the wastewater treatment plant.

The solar array will power the treatment plant, as well as provide electricity to other municipal buildings.

A grant of $1.22 million from N.H. Public Utilities Commission paid for part of the project, while the power-purchase agreement paid for the remaining $1.4 million in costs.

The town expects the solar array to save it between $250,000 and $500,000 over the next 20 years. The savings will be achieved through a 20-year power-purchase agreement with SunEdison, a publicly traded, renewable energy company headquartered in Missouri and California. Borrego Solar built the solar array and sold it to SunEdison, who will honor the power-purchase agreement.

The PPA allows the town to purchase electricity at 8 cents/kilowatt-hour through virtual net metering with Eversource Energy, instead of the standard 14 kWh. In this case, the electricity the solar array generates will be earmarked for municipal buildings not linked to the solar array.

In order for the town to qualify for this form of net metering, Eversource was required to be the town’s default electricity supplier for at least a month before the town received the solar-powered electricity. This requirement raised the town’s overall electric bill $1,200 from mid-September to mid-October.